This is something I've been wondering about recently, and I'm very interested in people's (in depth?) responses.
I have a billion things to work on, and a billion things that other people do better than me, so this isn't meant to be a "look how great I am" post (like every other post on this site...).
One thing that I'm particularly good at, though, is figuring out the best action to take and just doing it and sticking with it. Not always, but close. I figured out the best exercise program and still do it. Two years ago I decided that being vegan was the most healthy thing to do and have stuck with it since. I wanted to travel more so I left and am traveling the best way I can figure out. Blah, blah, blah.
Let's take cutting out sugar, for example. Sugar is never good for you. Period. I've heard weird justifications like "everything is good in moderation", but that's just not true. Eating sugar is always bad for you. White flour is the exact same as sugar - your body can't really tell the difference.
This isn't a matter of opinion, it is a proven scientific fact. Sugar is bad for you - it will increase your body fat percentage, it will increase your chances of getting cancer, and it will decrease your lifespan. Full stop.
Yes, we all know some dude who ate fudgesicles every day and lived to be 105. There are always outliers who are exceptions, but all scientific studies say that eating sugar is the root cause of a lot of bad things.
Yet I know a lot of very smart people who know these facts but still eat sugar.
Another example is smoking.
Here's something that EVERYONE knows is terrible for you. There is no debate. Yet millions of people smoke. It is so stupid. If you are a smoker, how is your #1 priority not to quit RIGHT NOW?
How as that possible? Is there anything you could possibly do in your life that would bring you as much enjoyment as living way longer and not getting lung cancer or some other nasty ailment? No, there isn't.
I can't fathom how this happens. How do people, when confronted with these facts, keep eating sugar or smoking? It makes no sense to me. Is it going to get easier tomorrow? Nope. Today is the easiest day to change. Every day you allow a suboptimal habit is another day it gets entrenched in your mind and your identity.
Maybe it's peer pressure. A lot of people look to the general consensus or government to make decisions for them.
"Everyone I know does it. It can't be that bad."
"If it was really that bad, the government would ban it."
Or maybe it's fear of change.
"I don't like eating things like spinach. I've always eaten corn dogs."
WHAT? You're not willing to eat something moderately unpalatable (which you will certainly love within a month or two) in order to greatly improve your life?
I wonder if the real reason is that we're too used to everything being easy now. People are unwilling to take on any challenge other than constantly dealing with a life they're not thrilled with.
If we want to feel achievement we play a video game. If we want to feel happy we do drugs. If we want to experience excitement we watch a movie.
Anyway... if you eat sugar or smoke or do something else like that, I'd really be interested in hearing why in the comments.
Read Free Will by Sam Harris or watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g&feature=youtube_gdata_player
There are two types of sugar. Bad sugar and good sugar. Artifical sugar and natural sugar. Keep away from the one, stick to the other.
It's simple, and it's the same with fats and other types of foods. Go organic/natural, and stay away from processed and refined.
People do things that feel good in the moment. Many of the negative or positive consequences come long term. Ever hear of the marshmellow experiment with 4 years olds?
Getting rid of a bad habit like smoking just depends on how badly you want good health. The more you want good health, the easier and quicker that bad habit will dissolve. they are directly proportional.
I also hate those disgusting smokers. They have weak wills and will die in a toolshed riddled with cancer.
Okay.. First off, I know a bit more about healthy eating than most because I have to.
I'm hypoglycemic, which basically means if I don't eat every 2 hours, I don't function. I require a near constant source of food to stay healthy and metabolize correctly.
Coffee, Caffieine, Alcohol, or any sort of medication effects me dramatically. Hell.. one cup of coffee would keep me unproductive for an entire day from the crash I get.
There's 2 things I can say about sugar:
1. It can be very helpful for an _immediate_ boost to bring me back to "normal". If I've gone more then 2.5 or 3 hours without eating, I'll start to lose focus, feel tired, and get quite moody (symptoms similar to PMS surprisingly enough). If I start to eat something sweet, I'll notice an increase in functioning before the food has left my mouth.
It blows my mind every time I have to do it, but testing with gum or "0-carb" sugar substitutes have proven to me that you do indeed notice the effects of sugar the instant it's in your mouth. It's really just astonishing.
However, after just a few minutes, the helpful effect sugar has on me is lost. Sugar is great for _starting_ the metabolism processes, but it is not great for maintaining energy, which is what I seek to do the most.
Which brings me to the second point:
2. Sugar, when consumed with the proper types of food can be very good for you. Having something sweet along with a high-protein meal can be a good "fix" for me to stave off any crash of my metabolic system. One of the best examples of this is my "Man Chow" mix of chocolates, mixed nuts and pretzels. This mix has helped me prolong my period between meals countless times, and is almost essential for me when I go out for hikes in the woods, bike rides, or other activity where I'll burn through my energy quicker than normal.
While I can get similar effects from eating grapes or other fruits, the sugars are essentially the same to my body, and it's much easier to mix everything together into something with a long shelf life.
Finally, avoid overly sweet foods if you can, and don't get too sucked into the "organic" craze. Don't spend a ton of extra money to get trendy food. Stick with more "traditional" meals and focus on your exercise. Diet is not the area where most people would benefit from improvements. It's far easier to change a diet than it is to start an exercise habit, and that's where most obesity is caused.
I think it's processed sugar that is bad for you. Fruit, honey and molasses and possibly pure cane sugar are perfectly healthy in moderation.
The process in which processed sugar is processed is what makes the sugar bad.
I try to avoid sugar, but since recently joining a gym have discovered i get horrible headaches sometimes. My blood sugar level is low and i need sugar to fix that. bad for me? i think not
I eat sugar in moderation because of a few factors:
1) I like the taste of sugar.
2) Nostalgia - Something like, I really want some zucchini bread that tastes just the way my grandma makes it. And my grandma uses sugar.
3) Convenience - baking with sugar substitutes seems like a nightmare. But maybe it's worth looking into.
I guess it's really just like how I've always known sunlight is bad for my skin, but I never really cared about wearing sunscreen until I started seeing minor wrinkles around my eyes (and I'm 22, not 50).
Everything you eat is primarily made up of three macronutrients, or building blocks: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Today I'm going to focus on what I've learned about carbohydrates, because they make up the bulk of most people's diets and they offer the biggest opportunity for diet improvement.
I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.
Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:
First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.
Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.
Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.